Scott Lemieux

Scott Lemieux is an assistant professor of political science at the College of Saint Rose. He contributes to the blogs Lawyers, Guns, and Money and Vox Pop.

Recent Articles

CAN THIS ARGUMENT...

CAN THIS ARGUMENT BE SAVED? In response to my claim that the exemption of women from punishment under laws banning abortion is fatally incoherent, a commenter here (as a TAPPED commenter did earlier) invokes Ronald Dworkin's argument that abortion is a "cosmic shame" that nonetheless doesn't rise to the level of murder. The commenter says: I have some sympathy for that argument even though I don't accept the premise (that abortion is at least morally problematic because it shows "disrespect for life".) Dworkin argues that this is really the position of most abortion opponents- that they do not in fact think that abortion is murder, and that they don't think this is shown through their actions. That part seems exactly right...If you have a position like this it doesn't seem implausible that one might think that abortion should be illegal, but might still think that those having abortions should not punished. I don't find that an attractive option myself, and hope I'd not find it to be...

"FEMINISTS" AGAINST WOMEN....

"FEMINISTS" AGAINST WOMEN. Admittedly, when it comes to illogic on the part of supporters of criminalized abortion, the rape and incest exemptions are relatively small potatoes. What really gives away the show is their unwillingness to apply criminal sanctions against women who are allegedly committing something akin to murder. Hack politicians , of course, respond to questions about how the Republican Party platform can support a constitutional amendment that would make abortion first-degree murder in all 50 states but would entirely exempt women from punishment by babbling nonsense. But even serious, usually principled pro-life intellectuals like Ramesh Ponnuru are willing to claim that abortion can be comparable to murder as a moral act but a matter of less import than spitting on the sidewalk when it comes to legally punishing women who obtain them. Surely one of these premises must be incorrect. Or, to be more precise, the Republican position on abortion is incoherent... if you...

THE FORCED PREGNANCY...

THE FORCED PREGNANCY JUSTIFICATION THAT DARES NOT SPEAK ITS NAME : Jill Filipovic finds noted crank Bill Napoli arguing that "[i]f you vote to repeal [South Dakota's unconstitutional abortion ban], you'll be voting for the death of 800 babies that didn't have anything to do with rape or incest" and "[i]f you love babies, and see those cute little babies in the park, grocery store, mall, or cafe, think very carefully about your vote to repeal." Napoli (of " sodomized virgins " fame) is trying to argue that -- while he supports a rape or incest exemption -- a draconian ban is better than no ban. But his defense of these positions is rife with the kind of gross illogic and internal inconsistency that are endemic to the American anti-choice movement . First of all, in terms of moral standing no fetuses (or "babies") have anything to do with "rape or incest" -- their mothers may be victims of these acts, but that's a different issue. (Which is reflected in the fact that nobody thinks that...

SYMPATHY FOR THE...

SYMPATHY FOR THE SCALIA . The New York Times is running a superb multi-part series about the increasing number of legal privileges and breaks being given to religious institutions, which has generated some attention and commentary . Today's article about the tax breaks given to religious institutions -- even when they involve clearly secular functions like retirement communities -- is also a must-read. What's striking in reading the series so far is the extent to which these special privileges have nothing to do with anything that could be plausibly called "religious freedom"--it's not clear how providing basic legal protections to administrators at religious colleges, for example, threatens the core expression of religious belief. (And the story about the aspiring nun who was fired because she contracted a serious illness, in addition to illustrating the abuses of religious freedom exemptions, should also remind us that the American system of tying healthcare to employment is awful...

Judged Dred

Dred Scott v. Sandford is the ultimate trump card in constitutional arguments. This infamous case -- in which the Supreme Court held that Congress could not regulate slavery in the territories and that African Americans had “no rights the white man is bound to respect” -- provides such rhetorically compelling ammunition because everyone today considers the outcome to have been grossly immoral. (And make no mistake, the legitimacy of Supreme Court decisions over time rests on their substantive outcomes.) Dred Scott has served an all-purpose function in political and legal debates for years. In a typical case, George W. Bush -- demonstrating the forthright advocacy of conservative jurisprudence for which Republicans are famous -- went out of his way to assure the public during one of the 2004 presidential debates that he would not, in fact, appoint Supreme Court justices who would interfere with the ability of Congress to ban slavery in Puerto Rico. Bush's strange remarks were widely...

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